Rwanda – Country & People

Rwanda - Country & People

Rwanda – the land of a thousand hills. From 1884 to 1914 Rwanda was a German colony. After World War I it was occupied by Belgium and gained independence in 1962. Sadly, it gained notoriety in 1994 through the genocide and massacre of the Hutu and Tutsi peoples. Today it is considered a safe travel destination with a high experience value.

Rwanda, with its capital Kigali, borders Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west. Rwanda is one of the smallest countries in Africa (slightly larger than Hessen) and extends over parts of the great African Rift Valley. The landscape is characterized by a hilly plateau with partly very steep areas. To the west are the rugged, volcanic Virunga Mountains. In the east there are dry savannahs alternating with extensive swamp areas. Numerous lakes characterize the original landscape.

This indescribably beautiful country is situated at an altitude of 1000m to 4500m. Accordingly, its tropical climate is temperate and relatively humid all year round. Exceptions are the high Virunga Mountains, where it can get very cool, and the low plains in the Akagera National Park. The rainy season is from March to June and October/November. From July to September it is mostly dry and rain is rare. From May to June most of the rain falls.

Animals and plants
In the Virunga National Park, the Nyungwe cloud forest and the Akagera National Park you can still find original vegetation. In the west there are tropical mountain forests, bamboo forests and alpine vegetation. In the inner highlands wet savannahs predominate and in the east dry savannahs. The Akagera National Park is regularly flooded, which is why you can find different swamp plants like papyrus, swamp grasses and water hyacinths.

Rwanda became famous not least through Dian Fossey, who researched the mountain gorillas here. The last mountain gorillas, whose total number worldwide is below 900, live in family groups in the Volcano National Park. The Golden Monkeys also live here. In the Nyungwe cloud forest you can also find chimpanzees, baboons and other monkey species. The Akagera National Park, which is home to elephants, giraffe lions, leopards, antelopes, zebras, buffalos, hippos, warthogs, monkeys, numerous bird species and much more, is different.

People and language
Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa and is estimated at about 13 million inhabitants. Kinyarwanda is spoken predominantly, furthermore French and English are official languages.

Faith and Culture
The majority of the population, about 85 %, belongs to Christianity. A small part is Islamic and nature and tribal religions play a major role as in the rest of Africa.

There is a compulsory school attendance of 12 years from the age of 7 years. However, the rate of children dropping out of school or interrupting school for years is high. Reasons for this are often financial problems or the need to help at home as well as early pregnancies. In elementary school the national language Kinyarwanda is spoken, afterwards the official language English. The first six years are free of charge. Those who can afford it or get a scholarship go to a boarding school that offers a good education. The rest of the time is spent in free secondary classes at their local school. There is a state university with various faculties and state colleges.

Paul Kagame is head of state of the presidential republic of Rwanda. The new constitution since the end of the genocide in 1994 allows for a multi-party system. The formation of parties based on religion, ethnicity or gender, for example, is prohibited.